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Washing & Drybrushing Armor

I’d like to address washing and drybrushing armor kits. I know I touched on this topic briefly before but I’d like to discuss armor specifically before I get into seam work. I realize I’ll be repeating myself, but I feel it’s important to discuss these techniques as they pertain to armor.


Let’s consider that you have your kit assembled and the finished paint scheme is applied. Give it a good coat or two of future to gloss it up and set it aside to dry (about an hour). Now that your kit has a nice sheen the wash will be able to “flow” around surface detail. For armor I use a reasonably dark brown wash-never black! You may want to use a slightly lighter shade on desert vehicles. We don’t want the tank to look like the details are “outlined” just to look like there’s an accumulation of grime. Take your wash and a fine brush and let it flow around the details like antennae mount bases, hatches, rivet heads and so on. Remember, if you get a bit too much, you can clean it up later with a q-tip moistened with thinner. I like to do the wheels before they’re attached. This allows me to lay them flat so the wash doesn’t puddle at the bottom. German armor with zimmeritt is the only exception I have to my “never wash the entire vehicle with a big brush principle”. You need to wash in the pattern of the zimmeritt so using a medium sized brush give those areas a wash. When it’s dry lightly remove any excess with a cloth dampened with thinner.


When drybrushing armor I differ from my aircraft technique by using shades of tan instead of lighter shades of the base color. This lends to a “warmer” look. The color of the piece is not a factor. Begin with a drybrush of medium tan-whatever color you may happen to have on hand. For desert vehicles look for a color a few shades lighter than the base but not too light. Subsequent drybrushes should be with incrementally lighter shades of tan while drybrushing with lighter pressure. Your last session should be with your lightest shade and only accenting the highest spots. Areas that have “battle damage” can then be drybrushed with a dark metallic (I like Model Master exhaust), and finally with a rust color. I also paint my tracks with exhaust then drybrush with aluminum followed with an airbrushed mist of rust. I’d like to see some questions or comments?

About the Author

About Mike Taylor (modelguy2)


Hi, If this article is four years old, why has it been posted again? I didn't see or note that, neither did anyone else, but then why should I. I was simply replying to a post? I hate being patronised. Cheers Al
JUN 20, 2006 - 12:04 AM
It wasn't posted again. :-) Vinnie
JUN 20, 2006 - 12:11 AM
Hi Vinnie, Sorry for having a go at you - assumed this was a 'new post' but looking at the dates can see that Mike has activated an old article, and get your drift. Cheers Al
JUN 20, 2006 - 12:33 AM
Thanks for the article Mike. I'm currently working on a tank and this helps answer many of my weathering questions.
AUG 13, 2006 - 03:31 AM
Mike, My son and I have just started making military kits, and thought you're article was great advice. You mention future for glossy finish, but what is that? Cheers, Speedy Sapper
AUG 11, 2007 - 08:31 AM
Nick, This is a seriously old article before the current vogue for filters although it is still well written and useful, Try this: LINK HTH Craig
AUG 11, 2007 - 08:47 AM
Thanks for a good article.. I learn somthing new everyday.
FEB 01, 2008 - 08:26 PM
Great information and a helpful guide for a newbie!! Just wondered what dry brush colours you would recommend for the German ambush colour scheme and would these be done as the colours are put down or after the entire scheme is complete?? Again my thanks and top job!!
JAN 14, 2009 - 03:01 PM
Great article and just wondered where do you buy Future. Is it available at the hardware store or a model shop. Just curious. thanks, jim kozuch
JUN 09, 2010 - 11:40 AM
good article for those in the know on washes, and its well put together, no pun intended! i'm a beginner with washes, have never done one. i don't know what the mixes are on washes, so i'd like an article for the beginner, sstarting from A to Z. rebelsoldier scouts out
SEP 01, 2010 - 05:11 AM